Aren’t these four great categories of music and not only descriptions of safe bridal wear? Today I am adding samples from seven albums, all recently released, all offering music most of you haven’t been exposed to yet, not because it isn’t great, but because.. well, lets not delve into this, for a broadcaster like me, touchy subject.
This is the third live album from Antony and his band, the Johnsons. I am not particularly fond of concert albums, but I’ll make an exception for Turning, it is touching and it is hard to notice an audience until the very end of each song, and Antony’s fragile, yet strong voice is definitely in the forefront. He toured with this material as far back as in 2006, and now he is reperforming the material with an accompanying film. We will have to do without the latter, but that is just fine.
The Decemberists are back with another album, What a Terrible World What a Beautiful World. The harshness of Colin Meloy’s voice is still there and not much new has happened since their latest great release, The King is Dead, except that all songs are new, some of the equally brilliant. Decemberists sound so folkmusicy and Irish/British, but they are all the way from Oregon. If you haven’t listened to them before, you’re in for a treat if you start going back into their catalogue.
Norwegian Katzenjammer has also released new material, Rockland. I have waited for the definitive album from this all-female group, and I hope and expect this is it, because Katzenjammer deserves an even larger following than they have today, with their foot stomping folkmusicy (I have to patent this word) and happy music. Regrettably I haven’t heard Katzenjammer live, but for my German and American readers there might be opportunities to experience one of the best reviewed live artists in Europe right now or soon. Look it up. In the mean time, listen to Rockland and to the well crafted songs offered.
For obvious reasons I have thought Belle & Sebastian was a Danish duo consisting of two overweight folk singers. This is what such a duo would have been called, believe me – and they would have performed the Danish entry to Eurovision Song Contest. Not so, this band is truly Scottish, and has been recording and performing since 1998. I have listened to them occasionally without really getting into their music, the variety in the genres has made their musical image a bit blurred for me. Their new album Girls in Peactime Want to Dance, is full of fun, irreverence, and looking back as much as forward, with both dance, disco and Abba lurking in the background. I love it, so now I promise to go to Belle & Sebastian’s back catalogue and listen properly, and never take them for Danes ever again.
The last album offering truly new music is the Brooklyn group HAERTS with their self titled debut album. The group met, of all improbable places, on Iceland, although none of the members are Icelandic, rather they carry US, English and German passports. HAERTS had a minor hit with Wings in the US, and the band has received decent reviews for their first album. There is something wonderfully old fashioned about their sound and orchestration, and the songs are good pop songs, with Nini Fabi’s lovely voice in the foreground.
On to the Borrowed category: The American duo She & Him, consisting of Zooey Dechanel and M. Ward, has just released their second album of classic songs, Classics. This is sweet bordering on nauseous, but never making me sick, because it is done with such sincerity and simplicity, and with respect for the songs and the previous performers. I am a great fan of the old masters like Gershwin and Porter, so this suits my taste just fine. I have added the less famous songs to the list, but please go the full album if you enjoy what you hear.
Finally, time to be blue. Pianist Anders Loven went to South Africa and joined forces with sax player Buddy Wells and vocalist Spha Mdlalose to make a beautiful, accessible and international jazz album, Nagijala. The album also includes the title song from Norway’s most popular movie ever, Flåklypa, and suddenly a song I have heard too many times, soars to the sky and gives me a completely new experience, particularly thanks to Wells’ sad and stunning sax.
Leaving us this week is Benjamin Clementine, Dan Clews, Girma Yfrashewa, Got a Girl, Jenny Lewis, John Hiatt, King Creosote, Kodaline, Loundon Wainwright III, Slow Club and Tiken Jah Fakoly. Some of them will be back, I predict. Until then.. enjoy.